Do not blame the Minister
The criticism that the cultural items lacked imagination is well-founded. The programme left much to be desired especially for the thousands who had to sit and wait for hours for the show to start.
There were major foul-ups. Things did not go to script with aspects of the planning.
But for Stabroek News to say that that the Minister responsible lacked the skills to organize an event of this scale was taking constructive criticism a bit too far.
The attack on the Minister’s ability by the Stabroek News is uncalled for. The Minister did her best under the circumstances. There should have been a greater appreciation of the complicated maze in which she worked.
The event would have been much better managed if from the inception a proper venue was available. The Minister was being asked to plan not just one event but a series of events to mark the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence.
She was being asked to arrange a major flag-raising event at which tens of thousands of Guyanese would attend without knowing the shape of form that the venue would take. When the planning began, D’Urban Park was now being prepared for construction.
D’Urban Park was being reconstructed through donations rather than government funding. How can you plan anything properly when this sort of arrangement is in place?
You are planning a major activity for a major milestone in your country’s history and not knowing whether the works at D’Urban Park were going to be completed and what numbers you have to work with.
There is need for some fairness to the Minister. The works at D’Urban Park were not completed until days before the event took place. So the Minister had no way to really knowing precisely how many persons would have been housed in the main pavilion. An estimate may have been given as to the seating capacity but how do you work so close to deadline without certainty?
There was no need to build that monstrosity that has now been erected at D’Urban Park. It is a stadium in the middle of a small city.
There was no proper parking. It is located at a major confluence for traffic in the city and is not fenced.
This means that the organizers of any event have additional security, parking and traffic control responsibilities. Any event being hosted there would stretch the resources of the police and traffic ranks.
We have a new government and they wanted to show that they could do things without the persons who did similar work for the PPP. The new government did not have the human resources available to undertake the planning of so many activities.
The Minister should not be blamed. She should be congratulated. Not only did she have to plan the flag-raising she also had to plan the Independence Day events for the next day.
This has never been attempted before. In addition there were other events which had to be planned for Guyana’s 50th.
The Budget passed in 2016 only gave the Minister three hundred million dollars. How does anyone bring off so many activities with such limited resources?
Where was the Minister going to find the people to pay to do the work needed when this was her starting Budget? There was no way you can even begin to plan around such a figure for so many events.
The Minister is not to be blamed. She was given a basket to fetch water.
She should be thanked for the fact that the entire celebrations did not turn out to be a disaster.